It’s better than you think

Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

There’s plenty of reasons not to make art or share your gift. 

Others may judge you. Or they may laugh. You could get criticized. Or it may not meet the (unrealistic) expectation you’ve set for yourself. It may fall flat on its face. It could be misunderstood. Nine out of ten people may not see its value.

But (and this is a big but), one person is all you need.

This is the person that needs your gift. This is the person that needs your generosity.

And if there’s one, there’s bound to be more. 

And even if there isn’t, isn’t changing one life for the better still a success?

We all have the power to make an impact. It just requires we replace our fear with generosity.  

Give what you have as best as you can. I promise, it’s enough.

A simple way to talk to anyone

It really is quite simple (but don’t confuse simple for easy):

  • Be curious
  • Have empathy
  • Repeat

The simplest ideas often born from the simplest truths.

And the simplest things are often the most difficult to do. 

It’s what makes them worth doing. 

How can you replace fear with curioisity? 

How can you see in them your shared struggle instead of the minor differences?

I struggle with this all the time. I imagine you must too. 

I can’t promise I’ll always get it right, but I’ve made a commitment to lean into the tension. 

Care to dance?

Your Head is a Big Fat Liar

It’s not good enough, will never be good enough.

Who are you, anyways? 

You’re not an expert. You know nothing.

Why would anyone listen to you about this?

The voice in your head

That’s just your head being a big fat liar (a bit overdramatic, if you ask me). It’s just doing what it can to protect you from danger.  

But, if you think about it, what’s really at stake? 

What if it fails (and it may fail)?

Have you never failed? Were you maimed by it? Eviscerated, perhaps? I doubt it even came close to such.

Instead, let’s treat our head like the big fat liar it is. Pay it no mind. Recognize that its lies are a sign to push through the doubt rather than stop.

I promise, it’s good enough. 

Now that we’ve cleared that up, get back to work. The world needs your talent and leadership now, more than ever.

Bonus! This post was part of a challenge with a friend and fellow blogger, Matt Fried, to write a post with the same title. Check out his version of “Your Head Is A Big Fat Liar” also published today on his blog, mattfried.co

The Messenger

Don’t shoot the messenger.

The message is clear. It says:

This message is not mine, please don’t hold me responsible to its contents. I’m just relaying what I was told

And perhaps that’s true, but that doesn’t mean you can’t influence the outcome. You have an opportunity to not just deliver the message, but to make it a message worth engaging with, something worth enrolling in

“…but the message comes from leadership, surely that’s enough to get them to enroll?

Titles and authority may result in compliance but are hardly ever enough to garner enrollment. 

Compliance results in bare minimum participation. 

Enrollment results in fully engaged ownership.

Compliance requires nothing more than you doing your job as a messenger. 

And no one will blame you if you just deliver the message. Because that’s what we’ve come to expect from the messenger. 

But, there is real opportunity to deliver a gift in the message, precisely because no one expects more than just the message.

The bar is set so low, there’s an easy opportunity to deliver more than is expected – to create a moment of surprise, delight, empathy or connection. 

You could deliver the message as is:

"Leadership has asked you participate in this project. You'll get details shortly."

Or, you could use this as an opportunity to make it something worth engaging with and emotionally investing in:

"Leadership has an important project that they've specifically requested your help with. They've been impressed with how you've managed your other projects. 

This project is important because of x (insert reason why this is important that would resonate with the person receiving the message). Can we send you the details and count on your help supporting this important initiative?"

One is an order, a request for compliance. 

The other opens the door for enrollment and engagement. It acknowledges the value of a recepients contribution. 

Compliance doesn’t make you indispensable. There’s a line of people out the door waiting to replace you, who can do what you did just as compliant. 

Doing more than is expected or creating unexpected moments of delight, makes you someone that is missed when you’re not around. It makes you indispensable. 

There’s opportunity in finding the low hanging fruit.

It’s easy to deliver something special or unexpected when expectations are low. You just have to look for these opportunities.

It’s how you make art of your work, how you distinguish yourself as an artist. 

Messengers are easily replaced.

Artists become indispensable. 

Magic in the Little Things

One of my favorite things to do when I’m at my wife’s family lake house is to take the kayak out. 

There’s a portion of the lake that shoots off into channels and ventures into the woods.

As I paddle deeper into the woods, the water becomes thick with bright green algae. The entire scene becomes a tapestry of shades of green in a woodland paradise.

This particular route is my favorite because as the canals meander into the woods, they go deep enough to give the illusion that I’ve ventured off the grid.

Just me, the kayak, and nature.

I’ve done this route dozens of times, and am always guaranteed to see wildlife. This most recent journey paid off handsomely and I saw them all – birds, deer, turtles, frogs, and river otters.

But, I also saw something completely unexpected and magical on this particular trip. 

My normal route requires I cut across the larger lake to access a particular entry point to the canals which takes me for a big loop and brings me to the canal mouth by the house.

It was particularly windy on this day. The water too choppy to cut across the lake. Instead, I decided to do my normal route in reverse. I entered the canal by the house and made my way towards the woods.

As I approached the section where the water turns to green slurry and the woods thicken, I noticed something peculiar off to the side in the canal. As it came into clear view, I found myself doing a double take to make sure that I hadn’t gotten a contact high from the bog odors. 

Someone had constructed a fairy wonderland on an exposed section of a tree that was half submerged in the middle of the canal. 

I had so many questions – questions of wonder:

  • Why was this here?
  • How on earth did someone do this in the middle of the canal?
  • Who would do this?
  • Who would spend their time meticulously arranging all of this? 

Nevertheless, I soaked up this gift and enjoyed the feeling of wonder it had given me. 

I reached my turning point in the route, which would have been where I’d normally enter the canals had it not been for the windy day, and turned to return the way I came. 

As I approached the fairy wonderland on my return, I realized it was much harder to spot from this direction. It could only be seen if you knew to look for it.

I would have completely missed it had it not been for the series of events that forced me to abandon my normal route. 

And while the route may have been the same, I noticed that my awareness was heightened doing it in reverse. I was seeing with brand new eyes because the perspective of it changed. 

There’s magic in the little unexpected things life gifts us when we’re open to receiving them. 

These gifts are all around us but are hard to see unless we nurture our curiosity and allow it to wander outside the boundaries of routine. 

More importantly, we also have it within us to be the artist that creates these gifts, these unexpected moments of wonder.

We have a chance to share our art with others, not because we want recognition and praise, but because it’s our gift. 

It’s the magic we make of the little things.

The Art of Work

A day’s work is our one and only chance to do something productive today and it’s certainly not available to someone merely because he is the highest bidder. A day’s work is your chance to do art, to create a gift, to do something that matters.

Seth Godin, Linchpin

Artists show up every day to hone their craft.

Artists give into their art and let it speak for them. 

The art becomes an extension of the artist. 

The artist doesn’t pursue their art for financial sake, but rather because it’s something they must do.

There is something within them they need to express. It matters not if they get paid for what they produce. Money does not motivate their art.

Their art is a gift – to themselves and others. It is a passion they can’t wait to share with others and they do so freely.

The artist doesn’t count the minutes until the end of the day or weekend. They lose themselves in their work and lose track of time.

Artists are driven by a purpose to create something new. To reshape our ideas of what’s possible or to see the world in a different light.

The artist believes in their art – knows it has the power to matter in the world.

The artist knows great art can move people, stir emotions. They search for ways to let their art speak and become an agent of change.

We all have to work. It’s a reality of life. 

How we show up to do that work is a choice we all have.

You have the power to be an artistst and create art.  

Why not choose to show up like an artist and make art of your work?